Managing Violent Patients as a BLS Provider
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 2,000 EMS professionals are injured annually in a violent incident involving patients or those on the scene of an emergency response. That means that the rate of violence-related injuries and lost workdays for emergency medical service providers is 22 times higher than the US national average for all workers.
Every provider, no matter their level, needs to understand how to keep themselves, their patient, and their partner safe.
Being Aware and Securing a Safe Environment
Your BLS certification has supplied you with the proper tools and techniques to effectively stabilize a patient. What comes after, whether that’s in emergency transport or through the doors of the emergency room, involves keen situational awareness.
Sometimes patients become violent in response to an injury or treatment. As the opioid crisis continues to sweep across the US, some EMS professionals have found that patients have adverse or violent reactions after the administration of Narcan and waking from an overdose disoriented, surrounded by strangers.
Other times, a patient has been violently injured and is agitated and aggressive when emergency responders arrive. In these types of situations, patients may need to be restrained in order to treat and transport them.
While you should never do anything to put your own safety at risk, these patients will often need to have their vital signs monitored and may need additional care, all vital elements of BLS training.
In certain situations, you may need to provide BLS treatment to a fellow EMS professional who has been injured while trying to manage a violent patient.
So, after effectively stabilizing a patient, take a closer look at the environment around you. Can you spot any syringes, cords, glass, or heavy bottles that could be used as a weapon? Have all weapons been confiscated by law enforcement or properly stored away from the scene? Is the patient restrained?
The area should have been secured before your arrival, but when it comes to you and your partner’s safety, you should never assume. Remain situationally aware. To better protect yourself and the patient, all sharps should be removed from arms-reach. You have a duty to care for your patient to the best of your ability and to help get them to a more stable and safe environment.
Learn more about building situational awareness with this free online webinar.
Preparing for Violent Situations
In a violent situation, it can be difficult to keep calm, especially if you feel your life is in danger. But, as an emergency medical professional, your responsibility is to do your best to keep yourself and your patient safe.
Your specific department will have its own procedures and protocols for managing violent patients, which may include but are not limited to:
- Safety training
- Self-defense training
- Body cameras
- Ballistic vests
- Physical restraints
- De-escalation training
- Efforts to improve relationships with law enforcement
How ACLS Certification Institute Can Help
Staying up to date with your training doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, you can complete your BLS certification online through ACLS Certification Institute by CareerCert. Our courses give busy EMS professionals the convenience of learning from the location and at the time that is most convenient for their schedule.
In addition, our team offers safety training for emergency departments through CareerCert.com.
More than 10,000 healthcare providers have used our program to sharpen their skills, take their BLS certification online, and improve patient outcomes. Start now!
- Maguire B. Protecting EMS personnel from assault. Journal of Emergency Medical Services. Oct 8, 2019. https://www.jems.com/2019/10/08/protecting-ems-personnel-from-assault/.
- Narcan, or Not. EMT Life. Sept 20, 2018. https://emtlife.com/threads/narcan-or-not.47345/page-3#post-671914
- Change in CMS procedures for restrained patients, Orange County CA. EMT Life. Jun 14, 2019. https://emtlife.com/threads/change-in-cms-procedures-for-restrained-patients-orange-county-ca.47871/.
- Two ambulance paramedics stabbed in Wolverhampton. BBC. Jul 6, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-birmingham-53310318.